Sami Vatanen is among a handful of players on the Anaheim Ducks’ injury list as their first-round playoff series against the Nashville Predators draws closer. And the defenseman probably is the most likely to find himself in the lineup for Game 1 at Honda Center on Friday.
Vatanen, along with fellow blue-liners Kevin Bieksa (upper body) and Korbinian Holzer (lower body), left wing David Perron (shoulder) and Rickard Rakell (appendectomy), participated in the Ducks’ first postseason practice on Wednesday. The 24-year-old Finn missed the final three games of the regular season with an illness but is eager to suit up for the team’s playoff opener.
“It’s a great time of the year,” Vatanen told the Ducks’ website. “I’m anxious for the puck to drop. I’ve been feeling good. … I’m ready to play.”
Vatanen appeared in 71 games during the regular season, recording nine goals and a career-high 29 assists. Four of his tallies came on the power play while two were game-winners.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, Vatanen made his NHL debut in 2012-13, scoring two goals in eight games. He recorded 21 points in 48 contests the following campaign and notched 37 in 67 contests in 2014-15 before eclipsing that total for a new career best this season.
Vatanen has collected 29 goals and 69 assists in 194 regular-season games with the Ducks while registering three tallies and 12 points in 21 playoff contests.
A native of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Vatanen has represented his country in numerous international tournaments, winning the bronze medal in the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder also helped the Finns capture bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics by recording five assists in six games.